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Are You Anxious at Work?

Take these steps to reduce anxiety and regain your calm.

Key points

  • Feeling anxious at work might impact the way that we react to others.
  • It can help to be mindful of reactions and responses to situations that induce anxiety.
  • Consider a gratitude journal or a mindfulness app to help regain control.

It’s not uncommon for us to carry emotional baggage to the workplace. Some of that baggage is light and positive, while other times, it can be heavy and anxiety-producing.

Alexander Dummer/Pexels
Source: Alexander Dummer/Pexels

When I was a young manager, I recall coming to work a bit out of sorts. I said my “hellos”, but my voice lacked the positivity that my boss knew and expected. I had outside worries on my plate that day, and I just wanted to make it through the workday without drawing attention to myself.

I barely got to my desk before my manager popped his head in the doorframe and said, “Lunch today?” It was 8:30 in the morning, but just knowing that Mike recognized that I had an outside worry and wanted me to know that I was not alone helped me to feel grateful and less anxious about the issue that I knew was waiting for me after work.

Feeling anxious at work might impact our focus and drive.

When we are nervous about something, even if it is unrelated to work, our focus remains on that issue instead of on our work-related tasks. This can cause huge delays and a decrease in quality output.

To manage this type of anxiety, create a mantra, like “There’s a job to get done.” When an anxious thought creeps into your head, repeat the mantra. You might also write down the anxious thought to clear your head and get back to the task at hand. After work hours, address the anxiety by speaking to a loved one or by taking steps to improve (or gain control of) the situation.

Feeling anxious at work might make us more easily irritated.

We might be more likely to yell at a co-worker or to snap back when someone says something that rubs us the wrong way. When we let the comments of others bother us, we are less likely to remain focused on our work-related tasks.

To manage this type of anxiety, consider mindfulness practices. Take a slow deep breath. Count to ten before responding. Remind yourself that you are only in control of your reactions to others’ behavior. We can’t will others to change, but we can make sure that we remain calm and focused, even during trying times.

Practice gratitude and mindfulness daily.

I always start with gratitude. Being grateful is free and is amazingly infectious!

I don’t wait for stressful days to remind myself to appreciate the little and big blessings in life. Rather, I practice mindfulness and gratitude exercises each day.

Those few minutes encourage resilience and positivity and make me feel calm even when a storm strikes. I wind down my day by listening to calm music or a sleep meditation before bed. And, if I wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep easily, I use a mindfulness app to help.

You can practice gratitude and mindfulness, too, by following these tips:

  • Start a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals are easy to start and can be as simple as a Word document or note on your smartphone. Some prefer to use a pen and a physical journal or diary. Commit to finding three things each day for which you are grateful. This could be something simple like, “My coffee tasted great this morning!” or, “I didn’t hit any red lights on the way to the office.” You might feel particularly grateful for a kind gesture made by a loved one, or for having a good checkup at the doctor.

    When you focus on finding things to be grateful for, you’ll notice a shift in your mindset. When something good happens, you’ll think, “I can include that in my gratitude journal.” As you begin to look for good things in life, your outlook shifts to one that is more positive. Positivity breeds positivity.

  • Download a mindfulness app and use it. Mindfulness apps provide users with reminders to stop and take a deep breath. They include calm music, quiet stories, and deep breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep. Commit to 20 minutes per day of using the app in order to reduce feelings of anxiety and to feel more positive overall.

    Many benefit from using the app during a particularly stressful time of the day. It is also very useful when unwinding before bed. Some apps have a timer function so that you may listen to calm music or a sleep story as you drift off to sleep. Incorporating mindfulness practices remind us of the importance of being present while embracing reality. We accept those things that we cannot control and focus on embracing the here and now.

Copyright© 2022 Amy Cooper Hakim.

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